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PAL AND OTHER-REGION DVD ANNOUNCEMENTS & REVIEWS


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#21 of 577 Livius

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Posted March 27 2010 - 10:56 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Crawford View Post

I'll be watching Backlash and Western Union between now and tomorrow. 

 

Optimum's Western Union is OK, just. I'm not sure any of its releases are especially noteworthy though. I *think* the German disc is slightly better, but I'd have to watch it again to say for sure.
Backlash looks fine to me, and it's an excellent little movie too.
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#22 of 577 Livius

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Posted March 27 2010 - 11:13 PM

I haven't seen it mentioned and it may be of interest, Tomahawk is being released in Germany on April 6.
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#23 of 577 Robert Crawford

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Posted March 28 2010 - 12:00 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Livius 





Optimum's Western Union is OK, just. I'm not sure any of its releases are especially noteworthy though. I *think* the German disc is slightly better, but I'd have to watch it again to say for sure.
Backlash looks fine to me, and it's an excellent little movie too.
IMO, Backlash had a nice transfer so I'm very happy with it.  I'll be watching Western Union this morning sometime.





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#24 of 577 Dick

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Posted April 01 2010 - 02:27 PM

I've checked out a bunch of new (to me) PAL/region 2 DVD's and a few Blu-rays from the UK. I will not pretend to compete with Gary Tooze over the DVD Beaver, who writes remarkable reviews and provides in-depth version comparisons. These are just a few quick notes on each, in no particular order:

                                                          PART ONE

NIGHT OF THE EAGLE (aka BURN WITCH BURN) (1962). B&W. 16x9 1.78.1. Mono. PAL, R2. After re-watching my burn of the Image laser disc for years, this is a revelation. Grain? Sure. Sharpness? Not like a tack, but sharp. Contrast: Excellent. No extras at all, not a trailer, not the Image laser commentary, not the dumb-as-nails Paul Frees introductory voice-over. But the movie is dynamite. Highly recommended.
 
QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (aka FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH). Color. 16x9, 1.85:1. Mono. PAL, R2. The old Anchor Bay disc was letterboxed but not anamorphic. This one (on the Optimum label) is infinitely better, with rich color saturation, sharp image, natural grain, good contrast. A trailer is included.

DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS. Long OOP in this country, and the old Anchor Bay release was only letterboxed. This one is Anamorphic, 2.35:1, Mono. PAL, R2. Optimum disc. Color is a bit desaturated (I long for restoration on some of Hammer's early stuff to get that Technicolor-like saturation back -- especially when ity comes to red!). Sharp enough, though.
 
TWINS OF EVIL. The final (and missing) chapter of the Hammer Karnstein trilogy, which MGM failed to give us during its Midnight Movies run. This is on the Network label. There are other versions out there that have garnered bad reviews. This one is a very nice 16x9 1.85:1 transfer. PAL, R2. It is sharp and colorful and apparently is the uncut version, although if you're expecting lots of female nudity, there's not much (you'll find much more in the first two of the series, LUST FOR A VAMPIRE and VAMPIRE LOVERS, which I think are both still available in the U.S.) Sole extra is a 57-minute documentary about Christopher Lee's film career.
 
THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN. Disney. Anamorphic, 2.35:1, Stereo. PAL, R2. Well, I've pulled my hair out ever since Disney basically flushed this lovely film down the toilet in the U.S., giving us a pan and scan, way-y-y over-grainy, washed-out mess. I knew the widescreen version was available from Europe but hadn't a PAL/NTSC converter. Now I do! Well, this is not a stellar transfer even though anamorphic. There are some aliasing and heavy grain issues, and an odd pattern throughout the image area visible in many shots when there is a lot of bright light (snow, sky). Nonetheless, a worthy investment (and a small one -- about ten bucks shipped!) for anyone who remembers this film fondly and want at least some improvement over the crap they released here. An early role for John Cusack. No extras.

WHITE FANG. Disney. 16x9, 1.85:1, Stereo. PAL, R2. Again, we in the States got the pan and scan treatment frrom Disney on this underrated adventure with Ethan Hawke and Klaus Maria Brandaur. Jed the wolf dog is back (from NATTY GANN) and Bart the bear gets a part, too. In truth, despite the anamorphic trreatment given the film in the UK, the DVD is not great. Like the NATTY GANN transfer (but even worse), this one has a pattern running across the whole picture area that you can see most of the time -- it looks like nothing if not dim, grayish snow or ash falling constantly. The color is fine, contrast, sharpness, etc. are good. It's hard to tell whether the grain looks natural because of that damn pattern. I never though I'd say this, but the pan and scan edition of this in the States is the better transfer. It loses information on the sides, but it's an otherwise fine-looking disc. No extras.
 
SHIPWRECKED. Disney. Anamorphic, 2.35:1, Stereo. PAL, R2. This was released in the U.S. as a club exclusive until recently, and it's another pan and scan disaster. The UK edition is excellent. Film-like, colorful, sharp. I was pleased to find it was directed by Nils Gaup, who  made the astonishing 1988 Lapp language film PATHFINDER. Highly recommended. I can't wait until the Disney people stop treating their live-action comedies and adventures with such scorn. There are many fine ones in the vault.

SOPHIE'S CHOICE. Special Edition on the ITV label. 16x9, 1.85:1, PAL, R2. Oh, what an exponential improvement over the nasty Artisan letterbox DVD! The film has always looked diffused and color-weighted toward browns and greens, but is so much more pleasing now. And there's that delightfully-rendered line from Kevin Kline, "I was just hoping for a little lively conversation..."
 
THE JUNGLE BOOK (1942). Color. 1.33:1. Region-free, NTSC. I should have known from the label name... Sunflower...Anyway, the movie's in the P.D. in Europe just as it is here, and the same abysmal quality transfers abound. Horrible. No, unwatchable. I also ordered the same title on the Platinum Disc label, which comes with a free soothing nature something-or-other disc I haven't even watched. A tad sharper than the Sunflower version, but both bite hard. I am going to try a few other versions hoping to get something that looks as good as my laser transfer of the Hallmark/Image disdc - rich color, sharp, the best I've seen it look. Oh, Criterion....
 
                                                           
                                   THERE ARE MORE... I'LL POST AGAIN LATER
 



#25 of 577 ReggieW

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Posted April 01 2010 - 04:51 PM

Heads UP!

The Blu-ray of the Band of Brothers HBO mini-series is now available at Amazon-UK to US buyers for 14.89 ($22.75) after VAT is subtracted. I've never seen this series, but jumped on this deal immediately. Btw, It's region-free and identical to the US release. I also picked up the blu-ray of Andrew Wadja's Katyn for 7.65 ($12.00) after VAT is subtracted. Act quickly, because the Godfather trilogy was priced like Band of Brothers, but the price on that one had gone up (doubled) when I last checked.

Btw, Katyn is region-free and contains no PAL content. Here's a review:
http://www.blu-ray.c...ay-Review/8664/
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#26 of 577 Dick

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Posted April 01 2010 - 04:52 PM

PART TWO


MATILDA. Sony Entertainment UK. Anamorphic 2.35:1, 5.1, PAL, R2. Obviously Sony decided that the U.S. is far less discriminating in their home viewing preferences than Europe, because they gave us a pan and scan thing over here, even while taking away the widescreen sides of dual-format DVD's when they reissued them in the U.S. This Danny DeVito film looks as it's supposed to in the UK, and is a very film-like experience. Highly recommended.

ICEMAN.  Arrow Films. Anamorphic 2.35:1, 2.0 Stereo, PAL, R2. If you like this movie and are pissed at Universal for giving the U.S. a crumby pan and scan rip-off, this one looks so good it's worth purchasing an all-region, PAL/NTSC player (like this Sherwood 5400) just to watch it. Great-looking image. And that John Lone performance, rarely mentioned, should have been nominated for an Oscar. Should have won, actually. Highly recommended.
 
COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT. Medium Rare Entertainment. Anamorphic 2.35:1, Mono, PAL, R2. Speaking of Universal ripping us off with pan and scan sci-fi films, their treatment of this film in the U.S. really riled people up (not least of all me). The widescreen frame is used so judiciously by the director Joseph Sargent that cropping it renders the movie close to incomprehensible. So, here you get the whole frame. Problem: lots of aliasing. All those computer boards and blinking lights and horizontal lines really suffer when there is any vertical panning. Sharpness is not great, but isn't a crucial problem. Color is acceptable. This disc does, however, include a commentary from director Joseph Sargent. If anyone has a better-looking transfer of this from another company/country, please post info here.

FIVE GRAVES TO CAIRO. Suevia Films. PAL, R2. This B&W classic from Billy Wilder has thus far been ignored by Universal in the U.S. I got tired of waiting, and ordered this Spanish DVD, "Cinco tumblas al Cairo." Nothing special about the transfer, except that this is the only game in town for this title that I could find. Some aliasing, but generally acceptable sharpness, grain level, contrast. Removable English subs. Recommended with reservations.

DON'T LOOK NOW (SPECIAL EDITION). Optimum label. Anamorphic1.85:1, mono. PAL, R2. 
The Paramount DVD available in this country isn't unwatchable. This would be a prime candidate for Blu-ray treatment, and that could happen in the UK. For now, there are several editions put out by different companies that each has unique problems and advantages. This edition contains a trailer, full-length Roeg commentary, and a 20-minute "Looking Back" featurette with Nicolas Roeg, cinematographer Anthony Richmond and, the person I most wanted to hear from, editor Graeme Clifford. Online reviews of this edition uniformly praised the extras while condemning the tinny, shrill sound quality of the DVD. Those reviews go back years, and I am assuming Optimum finally corrected this, because the sound is no better or worse to my ears than that on the domestic release, and is perfectly acceptable. Highly recommended.

THREADS. BBC Video. Made-for British TV, 1.33:1, mono. PAL, R2. This film was eclipsed in our country by THE DAY AFTER, made at roughly the same time. The reverse was apparently true in England. THREADS is really quite superior to its U.S. counterpart doomsday thriller in almost every respect: it is actually grimmer, better-acted, better-scripted, and far scarier than THE DAY AFTER in spite of the latter's becoming the most popular t.v. movie in history. Picture quality and sound are pretty decent for a t.v. movie transfer. Recommended.

THE GREEN MAN. BBC Video. Made for British TV, 1.33:1, 2.0 Stereo. PAL, R2. Outstanding mini-series starring the inimitable Albert Finney in his prime. This is a multi-part presentation with a play-all option. Image and sound quality are quite fine. If you didn't catch this on its U.S. run on PBS, check it out -- it's a wonderful ghost story that is pretty scary at times, but always interesting, with thick countryside atmosphere within and without an inn/restaurant. 2 1/2 hours running time. Some of the effects (woods coming alive) will remind you of THE EVIL DEAD.
 
Here's a weird one:

QUATERMASS II. Anchor Bay. I bought this at Amazon UK like all the titles above, but when this arrived, it was obviously a DVD-R. It has the official A.B. logo, and was designated as part of the "Hammer Collection," a title we did not get as a pressed disc in the U.S. There is no indication that this is a UK release. Rather, it is a region-free, NTSC disc, and looks quite fine. 1.33:1, mono, B&W. I was unaware that Anchor Bay was doing VOD's. Anyone have more info? I didn't spent much for this disc (as opposed to THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT Anchor Bay Hammer series DVD, which cost me big time. More on that later...)

THERE IS MORE. I WILL ADD TO THIS POST AFTER I'VE VIEWED THE NEWEST ARRIVALS.




#27 of 577 Livius

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Posted April 01 2010 - 10:56 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick ">
FIVE GRAVES TO CAIRO. Suevia Films. PAL, R2. This B&W classic from Billy Wilder has thus far been ignored by Universal in the U.S. I got tired of waiting, and ordered this Spanish DVD, "Cinco tumblas al Cairo." Nothing special about the transfer, except that this is the only game in town for this title that I could find. Some aliasing, but generally acceptable sharpness, grain level, contrast. Removable English subs. Recommended with reservations.
 
There is an
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#28 of 577 Jay E

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Posted April 02 2010 - 01:46 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick View Post

PART TWO


 
COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT. Medium Rare Entertainment. Anamorphic 2.35:1, Mono, PAL, R2. Speaking of Universal ripping us off with pan and scan sci-fi films, their treatment of this film in the U.S. really riled people up (not least of all me). The widescreen frame is used so judiciously by the director Joseph Sargent that cropping it renders the movie close to incomprehensible. So, here you get the whole frame. Problem: lots of aliasing. All those computer boards and blinking lights and horizontal lines really suffer when there is any vertical panning. Sharpness is not great, but isn't a crucial problem. Color is acceptable. If anyone has a better-looking transfer of this from another company/country, please post info here. 



 
Thanks for the reviews Dick!

There are 2 DVDs of this film for sale on Amazon UK. A more expensive one with a red banner on top (that I know includes an audio commentary), and a lower price one without the red banner. I have no idea if they have the same transfer or extra features. Which one did you buy?



#29 of 577 Dick

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Posted April 02 2010 - 02:59 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay E View Post




Thanks for the reviews Dick!

There are 2 DVDs of this film for sale on Amazon UK. A more expensive one with a red banner on top (that I know includes an audio commentary), and a lower price one without the red banner. I have no idea if they have the same transfer or extra features. Which one did you buy?

 
My review is for the one with the red "Widescreen Edition" banner at the top, which includes the Joseph Sargent commentary. Doesn't look great, as I said. I am hoping someone will report a better-looking edition somewhere. The version without the red banner appears, from the reviews I've read, to be a pan and scan edition, much like Universal's USA release.


#30 of 577 Jay E

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Posted April 02 2010 - 04:28 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick View Post




My review is for the one with the red "Widescreen Edition" banner at the top, which includes the Joseph Sargent commentary. Doesn't look great, as I said. I am hoping someone will report a better-looking edition somewhere. The version without the red banner appears, from the reviews I've read, to be a pan and scan edition, much like Universal's USA release.
 
Thanks Dick. A member here was nice enough to transfer my widescreen laserdisc to DVD so I think I will hold on to that.











#31 of 577 Livius

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Posted April 24 2010 - 11:28 PM

There are a number of Warner titles getting a release in Spain on May 18. I think, although I'm not sure at this point, that they're exclusive to El Corte Ingles for now. Some of these are currently only available through the Archive at present. Titles:

The Badlanders
Carson City
Close to My Heart
Northwest Passage
A Lion Is in the Streets

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#32 of 577 Chuck Pennington

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Posted May 09 2010 - 12:11 PM


You sure this is an official disc? I wasn't aware Anchor Bay had some soft of manufactured on demand program. I know there are a lot of bootlegs out there of titles that are now out-of-print. Did you buy this direct from Amazon.co.uk or some third party?

Originally Posted by Dick 

QUATERMASS II. Anchor Bay. I bought this at Amazon UK like all the titles above, but when this arrived, it was obviously a DVD-R. It has the official A.B. logo, and was designated as part of the "Hammer Collection," a title we did not get as a pressed disc in the U.S. There is no indication that this is a UK release. Rather, it is a region-free, NTSC disc, and looks quite fine. 1.33:1, mono, B&W. I was unaware that Anchor Bay was doing VOD's. Anyone have more info? I didn't spent much for this disc (as opposed to THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT Anchor Bay Hammer series DVD, which cost me big time. More on that later...)

THERE IS MORE. I WILL ADD TO THIS POST AFTER I'VE VIEWED THE NEWEST ARRIVALS.

 





#33 of 577 Chuck Pennington

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Posted May 09 2010 - 12:14 PM

And I took this transfer, adjusted it back to the proper 24fps, and edited back the opening and closing credits for BURN WITCH BURN (there is a different ending tag on the US release) and put in the prologue - AND edited the commentary in on an alternate audio track. I anamorphisized the brief Laserdisc footage I used, and I have to say MINE is the best version never released. :-) I have this great software that takes the 25fps PAL original, slows it down to the proper 24fps and re-encodes it beautifully and progressive - and then I use another program to pitch-correct the sound. NO MORE PAL SPEED-UP! :-)

NIGHT OF THE EAGLE (aka BURN WITCH BURN) (1962). B&W. 16x9 1.78.1. Mono. PAL, R2. After re-watching my burn of the Image laser disc for years, this is a revelation. Grain? Sure. Sharpness? Not like a tack, but sharp. Contrast: Excellent. No extras at all, not a trailer, not the Image laser commentary, not the dumb-as-nails Paul Frees introductory voice-over. But the movie is dynamite. Highly recommended.

 





#34 of 577 JohnPM

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Posted May 10 2010 - 01:55 AM

"I have this great software that takes the 25fps PAL original, slows it down to the proper 24fps and re-encodes it beautifully and progressive - and then I use another program to pitch-correct the sound. NO MORE PAL SPEED-UP! :-)"


Can you please supply a link or info as to where we can obtain this software?



#35 of 577 Chuck Pennington

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Posted May 10 2010 - 09:58 AM

Well, it's only for Mac, and there are several other steps in the process as the software puts the sound at the proper speed but somehow keeps the pitch at the INCORRECT pitch (I use another program to conquer that). I don't think in depth discussion of any kind of reverse engineering is allowed on here, though, so I don't think I can post any more about the details. But mark my words, it can be done, and the result can look as good as a decent studio release.



#36 of 577 Livius

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Posted May 10 2010 - 10:31 PM

Koch Media in Germany have Jack Arnold's Man in the Shadow (Jeff Chandler, Orson Welles) coming on June 25. According to Amazon.de, it's in anamorphic scope.


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#37 of 577 Marcel H.

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Posted May 10 2010 - 11:19 PM



Originally Posted by Livius 

Koch Media in Germany have Jack Arnold's Man in the Shadow (Jeff Chandler, Orson Welles) coming on June 25. According to Amazon.de, it's in anamorphic scope.


It is. It's a repack that was originally released as part of the Jack Arnold Western Collection along with Red Sundown and No Name on the Bullet.


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#38 of 577 Livius

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Posted May 11 2010 - 12:18 AM

Thanks, I didn't know that. It would be nice to see Red Sundown get its own stand alone release too.


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#39 of 577 Marcel H.

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Posted May 11 2010 - 01:44 AM

In July/August (no exact date yet) there'll be a bargain box of three already released westerns by Koch. It's called Classic Western Collection Box Vol. 1 and features Horizons West, Chief Crazy Horse and The Appaloosa. SRP € 20.


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#40 of 577 speedspin

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Posted May 31 2010 - 04:15 AM

I have just noticed that Six Black Horses has been released in Holland. I'm very fond of this one. I thought, previously, that it had only appeared in France...in the range of Westerns which all contain non-removable subtitles. I was wondering if it's safe to assume that the Dutch release is OK in that regard? Most Dutch releases I've seen do have removable subs but I don't want to buy this one only to find that it's the exception to the rule! Anyone picked it up? Link below:-


http://www.amazon.co...75321762&sr=1-1


(I haven't worked out how to abbreviate my links here yet)






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